Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow, Flights and Other Occurances

For those of you unfamiliar with the chaotic impact of 1 inch of snow on a community, let me introduce you to The South.  I live in an area with no snow removal equipment at all, and unfortunately I live far enough south that most of our snows are not really snow at all but sheets of ice.  Take sheets of ice, people who never have to drive on the stuff and no salt trucks and you get one big mess, in a hurry.

(Pilfered photo of last years snow.  After 10 hours sitting in cars, most people just left them and walked home.)

Kids are already excited because the mere mention of a snow means all the school systems start canceling school.  See, in addition to no snow equipment a lot of the school systems here have no buses,which means getting thousands of kids to school in bad conditions.  Our local high school has about 2 thousand students, with at least half driving themselves to school daily.  Rather than risk the safety of all those kids, they just cancel.

I do not want to be a grump and I certainly do not want to ruin a perfectly good snow day for kids, but tomorrow we are expecting 2-4 inches of snow. It is a wonderful and beautiful thing except__I have a flight to NYC tomorrow morning at 7.  Son3 is playing in a concert there tomorrow night and we have had these plans for quite some time.

So I am asking all of you to please think positive thoughts and send any prayers to whatever deity you choose, to let the snow event hold off until 8 am. Please!

Wishing for a white, fun day after 8 tomorrow morning!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Garlic Basil Pickled Brussels Sprouts

Yes, yes, yes, I know!  This is another post with a "not your run of the mill" food.  You are probably wondering if we actually eat anything normal, and the answer is yes most of the time. This current eating plan requires more thought than I usually put into meals and I am trying very hard to stay on Whole30 , but I need/require/crave some different flavors and textures.  I think texture is what I miss most.  With the exception of raw vegetables, there is very little crunchy food, and I do like some crunch. (Right this minute I would just about kill for a cracker.) Long story short, I am buying things we do not usually eat on a regular basis, just for variety.

I found a deal on brussels sprouts, so I bought quite a bit.  I bought more than I actually could eat roasted but I did not want to toss them or freeze them. ( I abhor frozen brussels sprouts.) As I vacillated between just going ahead and eating more food I was not in the mood to eat, and freezing them ( simply to keep from trashing them) I happened on this recipe I saw at Punk Domestics.  It is a sorting house for all kinds of instructions for food storage and preservation from around the net. From there you can quickly link to individual bloggers with instructions/recipes for whatever you are interested in.

From P.D. I followed a link to Putting Up with Erin and this recipe for Pickled Brussels Sprouts.
I had everything on hand except for the fresh basil.  Since I had to stop by the grocery store later that afternoon it was no big deal to pick some up. Yikes!  I grow it every summer so I never buy it.  I had no idea how expensive it is. (Note to self: Next winter make sure you have a basil plant indoors.)

Anyway, a few dollars later I was ready to begin the experiment.  I have never pickled anything like sprouts before and thought it might be worth the effort, or might not.  With little to lose, I mostly followed the directions and soon had 2 lovely pints of pickled sprouts canned and sitting on the counter.

                                           Pickled Brussels Sprouts with Basil and Garlic.

Pre Pickling Prep

1 pound cleaned brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons pickling salt*
water to cover

Trim the bottoms of the sprouts.  Cut an x shape in the top of each sprout, stopping about 1/4 inch from the bottom. ( Allows for all the pickling juice goodness to reach the innards, but it keeps each sprout intact.  Put all the sprouts into a large bowl and add water to cover.  Stir in the salt until it is dissolved and allow the sprouts to have about a 20 minute soak.  Drain and rinse them in a colander. Pack tightly in 2 sterile pint jars leaving about 3/4 inch of headspace.

Additional Jar Items
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 dried  habenero pepper (I had this sitting on the counter but forgot to use it)

Add 1/2 of the basil, garlic and pepper (if you remember) to each jar.


1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 cloves garlic cut in slices
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns

Heat in a small pan until liquid is boiling.  After it reaches a full rolling boil, pour the brine through a strainer over the sprouts in the jars. I strongly suggest having the jars on a towel in the sink.  Hot brine spills are best contained! Remove the air bubbles from the sides of the jars, wipe the rims, place a hot lid on the jars and tighten the rings.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  I am adding a link here with step by step water bath canning instructions.  If you have never canned anything before read it first!

After the pickles set on a towel on the counter for 24 hours, I labeled the lids with the date then set them in the pantry.  After 3 weeks there they should be perfect.

I had a few more sprouts than would fit in the jar.  I also added just a little more vinegar, seasonings  and water so I would have additional brine.  I poured the hot brine over those few and let them sit in the fridge for a couple of days.  Oh my goodness they were delicious!  Not really crunchy, but still delicious. They were so good, I am looking for more brussels sprout deals so I can make additional jars to have throughout the year.  After canning they should be shelf stable for at least 1 year.

Also after wandering through Erin's blog I am pretty sure her Whiskey Ginger Jam is something I will tackle soon.  I am not a huge fan of the canning process, but I really do love the results and these small batch recipes are doable in under an hour.

I wonder if anyone has ever pickled radishes?  I have a boatload of them in the crisper right now. (See above comment about needing crunch.)  I guess I need to Google it.

p.s. If you are even moderately thinking about canning anything go ahead and buy some jars to have on hand.  They come self contained with the lids and rings.  For first time canners it is very nice to have things all together and not have to worry about the purchase of additional lids.

 I personally do not own a water bath canner.  I'm sure it is well worth the purchase and if I did serious canning I might invest in one.  Since I generally can 4 jars at a time (max.) I just use my spaghetti pot with a kitchen towel in the bottom as my canner. It is deep enough to cover a quart jar with 1 inch of water above the jar.  If my intentions and actions coincide this summer and IF the tomatoes I plant have a bumper crop, I may go ahead and invest in a real canner. Maybe!

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Twist on Coconut Soup

Sunday afternoon I was hungry and the pickings were slim.  Most of my prep items were frozen, and I had just made a big bowl of slaw out of all the "old maid" veggies in the crisper. So, my  fresh produce was seriously depleted.

TheHub had already eaten a bowl entire can of cream of mushroom soup. I guess smelling the soup kind of put me in a soup mood, but if you read the labels of just about every single soup on the market you will not find a list of paleo friendly ingredients. (Why does everything prepared have some form of corn in it?) That meant I was going to have to fix me something from scratch using very limited options.

When I rumbled through the things in the refrigerator I found about 1/3 cup of coconut milk, a cooked pork chop, 1 not so pretty scallion, a small sweet pepper and about a cup and a half of chicken broth.  I thought I would make a single serving of coconut soup.  I do make it occasionally, but usually try to make it in a much more traditional form than I did today. Necessity meet mother of invention!

                                                 Convoluted Coconut Soup

(Sorry this picture is bad, but I was hungry, the soup was hot and I only snapped 1 quick pic)

For the soup

1/3 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons dried mushrooms
1 teaspoon dehydrated onion flakes
2 shakes garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 leftover chicken breast or pork chop, meat removed from the bone and chopped coarsely
salt and pepper to taste

For the topping
1 scallion sliced
1 small sweet pepper, sliced
6 cilantro leaves
1 wedge fresh lime

Mix all the ingredients in a pot.  Cook on low heat until the mushrooms and onions are fully rehydrated, the turn to medium high until the soup is very hot.

This is when I really strayed from anything ordinary.  I had this huge bowl of slaw ready and it was dressed with a very simple oil and vinegar dressing. (literally just cider vinegar, grapeseed* oil, salt and pepper) I knew I was going to have to eat some of the slaw because I needed the vegetable volume, but I didn't want to eat it as a side dish.  Instead I got one of my oversized soup bowls and put about 1 cup of slaw in the bottom of it.  Then I poured the piping hot soup over it.

I topped it with the scallion, pepper and cilantro leaves then squeezed the lime juice over everything. A quick stir to combine it all and I had one delicious variation on a theme of coconut soup. Most of the slaw bits wilted as soon as the boiling hot soup hit them, but there were a smattering of crunchy bits that gave it a really nice texture.

So I have been back on the Whole30 plan all day, but I must confess those leftover doughnuts from yesterday are yelling at me.  I am seriously considering pastry murder and just hacking them to death them in the garbage disposal.I am going to have a cup of coffee right now and if those blooming doughnuts are still yelling at me when I finish it's CURTAINS for them!

* Grapeseed oil is a neutral oil that imparts no flavor on the foods it contacts.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Belated "V" Day! Healthier Baked Doughnuts

Before Valentine's Day I had already decided I would not stick to my weird radical and restricted paleo diet  TheHub and I had dinner reservations and the meal was a prix fixe deal.  I was not about to pay a set price and only eat a bit of quail and a small short rib.  In addition to the meats I wanted to be able to enjoy a craft beer, the charcuterie tray, a glass of wine, the mushroom and wild  rice souffle, the mixed greens, the apple gallette, and did I mention the pots de creme?  So, I had preplanned to go off the plan for the day.  One day only, but I planned to take the entire day just the same.

Sometimes all the planets align and the universe decides to be exceptionally kind.  Valentine's was one of those days.  Each year my parents take my beloved sister and me out to eat lunch.  If Valentine's is on a weekday we eat on that day, always at a restaurant near the beloved sister's office. Since it was on a Saturday this year, we had decided to have Valenlunch on Wednesday.  Mom and Dad both had obligations every other afternoon and Wednesday Dad had only an early morning Dr. appointment.  At least that is what he told us.  If he had mentioned he was going to have a MRI and have to see the doctor again afterwards for the results, we would have made other plans.  I was pulling into the restaurant parking lot when I got the call that they were still waiting and could not make it.

Hmmm! No Valenlunch and no option for any other afternoon, so we decided to have Valenbrunch mid-morning on Saturday.  Mom had given me some doughnut pans for Christmas and they had been sitting, unused so I decided to make some baked treats.  And why would I make just one kind when I could make 2 ?

                                                       Doughnuts 2 Ways

The recipe for the chocolate doughnuts came with the pan.  I am just printing it with the substitutions I used.  The recipe for the apple cider doughnuts can be found here at The Faux Martha, but I am posting it along with the changes I made.

Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa* ( see below if using regular cocoa)
1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk or kefir
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oils

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix the cocoa* (if using regular cocoa you have to neutralize it by stirring 1/2 teaspoon of soda into the cocoa), flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips on a large bowl.  Whisk to combine thoroughly.

In another bowl mix the buttermilk or kefir, vanilla, eggs and vinegar.  The milk might curdle a little but don't worry about it.  Add the milk mixture and the oil to the dry mix alternately.  Stir until just blended.  Fill  greased doughnut pans just over half full and bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove  from the oven and let them sit 1 minute.  Put a wire rack over the doughnuts and invert the pan.  The doughnuts should fall out on the rack.  Let them cool completely before icing them. 

For Icing use 1 cup confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon of cocoa and 1 tablespoon milk.  I put it all in a ziploc bag, seal and squish it around until everything is smooth.  If the icing is runnier than you want add a bit more confectioners sugar.  If it is too thick add more milk, a few drops at a time, until you get the consistency you want.  Snip one corner from the bottom of the bag and squeeze to swirl icing on the each doughnut.  This recipe made 15 regular size doughnuts (16 if you count the one that fell on the floor)

Apple Cider Doughnuts
6 tablespoons butter
2 cup apple cider vinegar, reduced to 1 cup (use 2/3 cup for doughnuts, save remaining for icing)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (King Arthur Flours makes this)
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs

1 cup confectioners
2 tablespoons reduced apple cider

preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt butter and stir into 2/3 cup of reduced apple cider.  Let cool.
Whisk all the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices  in a medium bowl and set aside.  Stir the honey, sugar and egg in the cooled butter/ cider mix until it is completely mixed.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.  Fill greased doughnut pans just under 1/2 full.  bake 5-7 minutes, remove from  the oven and let sit for 1 minute before turning them on a wire rack to cool.  When completely cool ice with the icing mixture.

Mix the confectioners sugar and the reduced apple cider in a ziploc bag.  Adjust more sugar or cider to your personal taste. Squish to blend thoroughly.  Cut one corner end of the bag off and drizzle the icing over each doughnut.  This recipe made 14 doughnuts filling them half full.

And now Valentine'd Day is officially over, and I will be back on the Whole 30 plan tomorrow, but tonight I will sleep with doughnuts and deliciousness in my belly. And Tums, I did mention the need for Tums didn't I?

For the record the words in italics are totally made up words, but my beloved sister and I have used them for years so they are now completely immersed as part of our vocabulary. The word in bold was added yesterday, but I am sure it will remain in our day to day language also.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Mushroom, Chicken and Bacon Whole30 Quiche (That Means No Crust)

Last night I was looking through the refrigerator to see what I needed to use before it spoiled.  I had about a cup  of chicken I had pulled from a baked chicken and a few strips bacon that had to be consumed in the next couple of days.  I did a really quick google search for a paleo recipe that might combine the two and found this at Stupid Easy Paleo.  Since I had everything it called for at home, I called it a message from the universe and started cooking. (Thank you Aldi for having an incredible deal on mushrooms last week.  I had already dehydrated 5 cartons of them and they were living in a former peanut butter jar in the pantry.  If not, I would have had to go to the store.)

                                                     Mushroom, Chicken and Bacon Quiche

2 grams dried mushroom slices* ( I have no idea what 2 grams looks like so I used 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cup shredded chicken ( use what you have on hand)
6 slices bacon**
6 eggs
1 cup coconut milk***
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
boiling water for rehydrating mushrooms
coconut oil for greasing the pan

375 degree oven

Put the mushrooms in a heat proof dish and cover completely with boiling water.  Let the mushrooms sit for about 30 minutes to rehydrate.  Pour off the liquid and squeeze the 'rooms with a wooden spoon to remove as much liquid as possible. (I wish I had saved my liquid to add to soup but I didn't.)

Cook the bacon in a skillet until it is crisp, remove from the skillet and let it cool to the touch.  Put the mushrooms and chicken in the skillet and cook until most of the mushroom liquid is gone.  Break the bacon into 1 inch pieces and stir it in the chicken mix.  Spoon the mixture into a greased oven proof baking dish. ( I used the old Corningware white quiche pan.  It measures 10 inches in diameter and is 1 1/2 inches deep.  Plenty of room, and yes I am the goob who just measured the dish for you! )

In a medium bowl beat the eggs, coconut milk, sage, salt and pepper, and pour over the mix in the baking dish.  Pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cut in pie shaped wedges and serve.

This is a very filling and tasty dish.  It is not the best thing I have cooked on this plan, but it is far from the worst. The consistency was near perfect, and the slices came out of the dish very easily. It was visually attractive and only took a salad to make it a complete meal. I guess this is a slightly biased review because this is not what I wanted for dinner, it is just what I had on hand without defrosting anything.  Plus, I am just tired of eating eggs!

* When I make this again ( and I will ) I will use fresh mushroom slices.  I think about a cup would work well, and I will stir them into the bacon while it is cooking to wilt them.  Since it is still winter I have no fresh sage and used the dried stuff.  I might use a little more, plus some parsley and a couple of pinches of thyme. ***I will use almond milk rather than the coconut milk.  I felt the sweetness of the coconut milk overpowered the sage.  Almond milk has a much more neutral flavor which would work better with the herbs.

** My bacon was precooked.  When I buy it I cook it all at once and then keep it in a ziploc bag until it's needed.  Fortunately there was some strained bacon grease in the freezer to add to the skillet to flavor/dry the mushrooms and chicken.

If you are not burned out on eggs and want a quick easy quiche then this is for you, so get crackin'.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Turkey Blueberry Sausage?!?!?!?!?

I understand fully if you look at this title and think "that is just too gross to even read any further". If you decide not to, well that is your choice. But, before you do, let me really skew Michael Corleone's quote to Appolonia's father.  "There are many people who would pay a lot of money for this information, but then you would be losing an opportunity instead of gaining something new and delicious for breakfast." 

 I actually had the same ick reaction when I first found the recipe here at Summer Innanen.  Even though there was some initial revulsion, I kept going back and reading it.  Her comment about all her clients loving it finally persuaded me to try it. (Well, that and the fact that TheHub had picked up two containers of blueberries that were about to die in the crisper drawer.) 

I had everything but ground turkey, which I picked up yesterday at The Pig and got up bright and early this morning prepared to make them.  And I would have but I really hate eating anything early in the morning.  Mid-morning I was ready to give it a try, so I guess this is more brunch-ish for me than a true breakfast.

                                              Turkey Blueberry Patties

         In this photo it looks like the patties are charred.  The dark color is actually just the blueberries.

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon sage (it's winter so I have no fresh sage)
1/2 teaspoon thyme (ditto)
1/4 onion minced
2 ribs of celery minced
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup blueberries ( I used a little under 1/2 of a box)

Mix together well. I mixed everything but the blueberries until it was all combined and then added the berries. Form into 8 patties. (This is a messy job.  I suggest turning off the phone ringer while doing this.  Make sure you let the dog out before you start also so you can have gloopy hands without having to wash them 5 times during the process.)

Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or ghee) in a non-stick skillet. (This is critical!  I am an opponent of non-stick finishes on cookware so I tried at first to use my regular stainless steel pan. Thank goodness I was cooking only 1 patty to see how it cooked. Let's just say me and Mr. Brillo are about to be well acquainted.  I only own 1 non-stick omelet pan so I quickly switched to it.)

Make sure your oil is very hot when you  put the patties in the pan.  A few of the blueberries will burst and they will stick to the pan if it is not hot enough.  Cook for about 4 minutes on a medium/ medium high heat. Turn and finish cooking. ( This are a bit delicate so do not flip more than 1 time or they will fall apart). Drain on a paper towel covered plate.

 Make sure you do not overcrowd your pan. Mine would only hold 3 patties at a time and I found after cooking the first 3, I needed to clean my pan and start all over again.  It was not a problem, but a step I did not plan on.  I had 2 patties for breakfast and cooled the others to room temperature before putting waxed paper between each one and then putting them in a freezer bag to have at a later date)

The verdict:  These things are absolutely delicious.  They tasted like a mild sausage with bits of sweetness  throughout.  The blueberries did not overpower the turkey nor vise versa. The flavors are very complimentary and the sausage has a very light texture.  Sometimes traditional sausage leaves me feeling a little over-fed.  This was just a lovely brunch meal, and I did eat it as pictured plus an additional bowl of collards. ( Since the Whole30 plan insists I eat a lot of vegetables with each meal, I try and have some leftovers to warm the next morning)

If they freeze and reheat successfully, I will make several batches of this at one time specifically for the freezer.  In the morning I had much rather reheat than cook from scratch!

So put your phone on silent and go make some sausage!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Off The Wagon, Back On The Horse

Friday, I accidentally fell off the wagon.  It truly was not by intent or desire, it just happened and it was not even my fault.  I had stopped by the butcher shop to pick up my order for the weekend. (If any of you from Birmingham are not shopping at Bottle and Bone you must stop everything and go there.  It's in the Uptown center and is a butcher shop/limited menu restaurant.  Best. Meats. Ever.)

I got there about 15 minutes after they opened, the butcher was late so I had to wait about 30 minutes for my order.  They offered me a drink while I waited and all I really wanted was a cup of coffee, but they had none. ( In reality the fall was actually their fault.  If they had my order ready or coffee none of this would have happened.)  They did have a diet Buffalo Rock*, and even though Whole 30 does not allow diet drinks, I figured it was not terribly far off the plan.  I sipped on it while I waited, got my order and was nearly home  and nearly finished with the drink when I realized it was not diet, but was the regular Buffalo Rock.  Now normal people would have just said, oh my I made a mistake, but I will just chalk this up to inattention and go back on the plan immediately. Oh, but not me!  In my pea brain it was an open invitation to enjoy whatever I wanted that day, which then stretched to Saturday and Sunday. Oh my goodness, bread and chocolate and cookies and ice cream, how I had missed them and how I indulged.

Monday  came and I started over...again! Good for me and my eating, not so good for my mouth though.  It really does miss chocolate sometimes. And bread, it misses bread too.

                               Not a recipe, just a method of cooking pork chops

Monday night I was faced with 2 incredibly thick pork chops, not a lot of time and I was starving. I put about a teaspoon of olive oil in the bottom of a saute' pan and quickly browned one side, then did a quick flip to brown the other side.  I sprinkled about 1/4 teaspoon of thyme and 1/4 teaspoon of sage over each chop. sprinkled them with a bit of salt and pepper and covered them with 1 sliced onion, 1 peeled sweet potato sliced,  1 apple sliced, and about 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms ( in that order).  I added 1/2 cup of chicken broth over the slices, covered the pan with a lid and turned it down to a low simmer.  After about 20 minutes all the veggies and fruit were soft and the chops were cooked through.

To serve I put the chop on a plate, covered it with the vegetable and apple slices, then put a few more on the side of the plate.  I added some fresh peppers and a few okra crisps ( I find these at Whole Foods) and called it a meal.  I had an additional side salad since there were 3 of us eating and I only had 2 chops, but these were about 1 1/2 inches thick, so there was plenty  for TheHuB to share with me.  Son3 was eating with us and he had a whole one.  When you need a quick tasty way to cook quick pork chops give this a whirl, you might really like it.

If you want to remain true to your diet, be very careful when selecting a Diet Buffalo Rock and call the butcher  to make sure your order is ready prior to picking it up!

* Buffalo Rock is this intense ginger flavored ginger ale. (Think Canada Dry on steroids)  It was local to the Birmingham area in the beginning, but has spread through some of the south.  Maybe some of you in other areas have access to it now also.  If you ever get a chance to drink it, please give it a try.  You might love it or be overwhelmed by it, but either way you will get a little sip of something truly southern.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Custard for Breakfast!

I mentioned before that I am craving intense flavors, especially in the mornings.  I am sick of scrambled eggs (the only way I can choke them down)  with ham/bacon/sausage. I know I can have whatever protein  I want in the morning, but I have been cooking and the amounts have been on target so there have been very few if any leftovers to re-heat in the morning. 

As a card carrying member of the Night Owl club, I am not a happy camper early in the day.  I don't like to even think about food or cooking then, so I generally have coffee  and wait a couple of hours before eating.  By the time I am ready to eat, I'm truly hungry and don't want to wait so I scramble an egg and force myself to eat it. (Yuck!) I also know that eggs are about the cheapest protein source available on the Whole 30 food plan, so eggs it is.  Every bloomin' day... eggs, eggs, eggs.

Then one day I was looking through archived posts at Nom Nom Paleo and found the following recipe for Cantonese Egg Custard With Minced Pork.  This was a perfect dish to try for a couple of reasons.  I have been trying to use my frozen stash and I had a pound of ground pork that needed to be used.  Also, after reading the recipe, I figured I could make the filling the night before and let it rest in the fridge until the next morning. So that is exactly what I did.  When it was time to put the recipe together the next morning, I simply put the filling in the bowl I was going to use to steam the custard and nuked it for about 30 seconds. Worked like a charm.

                                  Cantonese Egg Custard With Minced Pork

                                                              View from above

Before you do anything

Put about 3 inches of water in the bottom of a large pot, fitted with a steamer rack*.  Bring the water to a rolling boil then turn down to a hot simmer.  This custard requires steam for cooking so it must be hot enough to create steam throughout the cooking time.

The Filling

1 teaspoon ghee (I left that out)
1 shallot minced
1/2 pound ground pork
3-4 stalks asparagus, thinly sliced
3 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced ( I had white buttons and used them instead)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (I broke down and bought Red Boat 'cause it's paleo)
2 teaspoons coconut aminos
ground pepper to taste

Put the ghee and pork  in a small pan. Cook until it loses its pink color. Add the shallots and cook until they are wilted, then add the asparagus and mushrooms.  Cook for about 1 minute then remove from the heat.  Stir in the fish sauce, coconut aminos and pepper.  Put in the bottom of a shallow bowl. (I found a wide cereal bowl was perfect, but make sure you have a matching bowl to cover it.)

The Custard

3 eggs
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fish sauce

In a medium bowl mix the custard ingredients and gently pour over the filling.

(Now is when it got a little tricky for me because I only steam vegetables in a cute little veggie basket.)

Place the bowl on the steamer rack* and cover with an inverted bowl the same size.  Put the lid on the pot and cook until it is set (the old knife inserted in the center comes out clean trick).  The original recipe says 15 minutes but it took mine about 30 for the center to set. Carefully remove.  I emphasize the careful part again.  This steam is hot enough to cook eggs, it will definitely do harm to uncovered flesh.  I hate kitchen mitts but they are a real help with this. The inside of my right arm may or may not have been bright red for a day or two because I didn't use them. ( Remove the top bowl first before you try to take out the bottom bowl.  I found a pair of tongs helpful for removing the top.)

Let the custard rest for a few minutes, then top with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, a sprinkle of scallions and some fresh cilantro. ( I had no cilantro)  The recipe says it serves 4, but we found it serves 2.  Or we are just pigs who were very hungry.

This was delicious.  Even my picky mother, who had dropped by the house, had a bite and thought it was very good.  Because it is a little time consuming to make this will not be a go to meal, but it might very well become a weekend standard.  Finally!  Eggs that neither taste nor feel like eggs!

So what are you waiting for?  Go crack some eggs!

View from the plate.  This is what 1 serving looks like so I ate 2!

Since I had a pound of pork I doubled the recipe for the filling.  I used just under half for the custard and froze the rest in 2 bags for later use I will adjust the custard down and make it with 1 egg, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce. I think that will work, but I will let you know after I try it.

* A little info concerning the steamer rack.  I don't have one.  I just have a steamer basket and it would not work because there is not a flat surface for the bowl to rest.  Instead I found 3 metal syrup cups ( see pic below) and turned them upside down in a sort of triangle shape. Then I set the bowl on the three of them.  Voila! It worked!


I found these at a restaurant supply house for about 50 cents each.  They are what a lot of breakfast places use to hold warm syrup.  Inverted it turns out they make a dang fine steamer rack.  Good thing I finally found a use for them since I never warm syrup.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Muffaletta Salad

I have been struggling with this super restrictive paleo food plan I am currently doing_again.  I am no longer missing grains or sugar, but I really have felt like I have been in flavor denial. A few days ago I was looking for recipes packed with "taste" while still remaining true to the Whole 30 food plan.  I was not searching for anything particular and certainly not a salad or side but I stumbled on this at The Clothes Make The Girl and knew I would eventually try it.  Eventually came sooner rather than later.  I have learned since starting this food plan when I see something interesting to go ahead and write the ingredients I need to buy on my shopping list.  (Side note:  I also write the name of the recipe to the side of the ingredient because I have gotten home from the store and not remembered why I bought something specific.) I went shopping that same day and threw this together that evening for the next day.  

I did this differently than the directions of the original recipe because I did not read the directions before making the salad and had completed it before I even read them I am so creative in the kitchen. (uh yeah, that's it).  Even with my mistake new take on the recipe, it was delicious!

                                                 Muffaletta Salad

1/ 2 head cauliflower, chopped in small pieces
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
4 scallions chopped
1 red pepper ( roasted and chopped)  I used jarred peppers
1/3 cup pimento stuffed olives, chopped
1/3 cup pitted black olives, chopped
1/4 cup mild pickled pepper rings, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons Italian herb blend
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Mix everything in a large bowl and stir until it is well blended.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.  Serve cold as a salad or side dish.

Ok, this is honestly some of the most flavorful food I have eaten on this plan.  It made a large bowl and I was so excited as I tried the first bite.  I was thinking how delicious it would be the next day for lunch, but it seems I was not the only one who thought it was delicious.  When dinner was over there was not a shred of the salad left.  I would have been a lot more upset if I did not have 1/2 of a head of cauliflower left in the fridge.  I have made this 3 times now and we still love it, but now we are not fighting over who gets the last bite.  It is so easy to make that I can have another made in just a few minutes.
I can see having this weekly whether I am doing a paleo plan or not.  It would be fantastic with a little chopped salami and some chopped mortadello. The original recipe called for wine vinegar, but Whole 30 declares it off limits so I substituted balsamic.  The wine vinegar would be fabulous, I think.

This makes me hungry and there is about a cup left.  Guess I know what I am having for supper tonight!  And I am not sharing!